Methamphetamine is a dangerous and addictive drug. If someone uses meth enough to develop an addiction, he or she will experience withdrawal symptoms without the drug. Although meth is not directly physically dangerous, the side effects it triggers can be.
Using or abusing a dangerous drug is risky, but stopping the use of the drug can also be dangerous. Although it’s beneficial to end a meth addiction, the withdrawal period is unpleasant and can create problems of its own. Meth withdrawal is not considered fatal, but if symptoms of withdrawal are bad enough a person can die during the process.
Some of the most frequently asked questions about meth withdrawal include:
Withdrawal from crystal meth is most likely not potentially physically damaging unless the individual becomes extremely emotionally unstable and engages in self-harm.
Not directly, but fatal side effects are possible.
It’s a normal symptom and will fade with time.
Hallucinations are one of the most common symptoms of meth withdrawal.
Although rare, seizures are possible with meth withdrawal.
If you or a loved one is addicted to meth, it’s important to seek guidance from a medical professional during the withdrawal phase to help prevent deadly seizures from occurring.
Many of the symptoms a person experiences during meth withdrawal are similar to those that occur when withdrawing from any drug. Meth withdrawal symptoms include:
The depression that arises for many going through meth withdrawal can trigger suicidal thoughts and tendencies. Meth is a stimulant and when a person stops using it, the opposite effect occurs. This is one of the primary concerns of withdrawal. The feelings of hopelessness that arise during withdrawal also tend to increase a person’s risk of relapse.
Anyone going through meth withdrawal should be carefully monitored for mood changes and receive immediate medical attention if thoughts of suicide arise.
Meth withdrawal symptoms follow a timeline that begins almost immediately after the effects of a person’s last dose wear off. For example:
This is the first phase of meth withdrawal and occurs within the first 7 to 10 days from the last use of the drug. Symptoms of this phase include:
After about a week, additional symptoms set in, including:
The follows a the final portion of the acute phase, which includes symptoms, such as:
This period can last up to 10 weeks.
This second phase of meth withdrawal is when symptoms begin to noticeably improve. A person’s cravings fade, their sleep patterns normalize, and their mood settles. There is still a risk of relapse, but with consistent support, a person who makes it to this phase has a much better chance of recovery. This phase lasts approximately two weeks beyond the first 7 to 10 days of recovery.
The detoxification process is challenging with a meth addiction, but it is possible to recover from the addiction.
A medically supervised detox program followed by rehab is the best option for most people with a meth addiction.
Detox is the first phase of recovery and it occurs in the following steps:
When someone enters detox for meth addiction, doctors evaluate his or her physical and mental condition. After immediate issues are addressed, the detoxification process begins.
Certain medications are known to support successful recovery from meth addiction. One of the most promising drugs is Naltrexone. Originally used to treat alcoholism, research has shown Naltrexone significantly decreased cravings for methamphetamine during detox but it is not yet FDA approved to treat methamphetamine addiction.
Detox continues until meth is out of the person’s system. His or her overall health is re-evaluated and addressed. One of the most important aspects of this phase is determining if a person has any co-occurring conditions. If so, treating these simultaneously is a must during the recovery process.
After detox is complete and withdrawal symptoms subside, formal counseling begins. The purpose of therapy is to help the person with the addiction determine the underlying causes of the addiction. It also teaches the person to identify triggers for drug use and learn to manage those triggers effectively.
In addition to therapy, people with a meth addiction also benefit from other forms of counseling and support. For example, 12-step programs or similar long-term peer group support is effective for many.
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“5 Meth Withdrawal Symptoms Users Experience.” Verywell Mind, www.verywellmind.com/what-to-expect-from-meth-withdrawal-22358.
“NPR Choice Page.” Npr.Org, 2019, www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/11/07/776135642/a-medication-to-treat-meth-addiction-some-take-a-new-look-at-naltrexone.
Ciccone, Alicia. “Naltrexone May Be Effective for Methamphetamine Addiction.” Neurology Advisor, 25 May 2015, www.neurologyadvisor.com/topics/general-neurology/naltrexone-may-be-effective-for-methamphetamine-addiction/.